Title: More

Author: Jodi Marie

Email: ag4bk@juno.com

Classification/Summary: S/J, Death Knell Tag with a bit of closure for Chimera

Spoilers: Desperate Measures, plus several from season seven

Disclaimer: Not. Mine.

Unbetaed: Mistakes are mine, all mine.



'Dammit.' The word went unspoken as O'Neill watched his 2IC's head droop. Again. She was exhausted.

Of all the things in the universe that could make his stomach flip-flop, a 'needy' Carter was number one on a very short list. She'd said, 'no' she didn't want to get up, just needed to 'sit a minute'. And while she did he looked at her. Really looked at her, for the first time since he'd entered the clearing. What he saw was a mess. A filthy, worn-out, not-so-sweet smelling mess that bore only a slight resemblance to the woman he knew as Carter.

The woman. Not 2IC. Not Major or even Doctor. He glanced around the clearing, suddenly self-conscious of his own thoughts. The sound of a heavy sigh brought his attention back to her.

He slowly lowered himself to sit beside her and stole several glances in her direction, completely at a loss as to what to do next. Things had cooled off somewhat between them lately. Not that there ever really *was* anything there, but it seemed she'd come to some personal decisions, one of which was to have a life outside the mountain. She'd started going home at a respectable hour, and now she had a 'romantic interest' too. He knew from the few references to 'Pete' that she obviously felt there was potential for something long-term. After the run-in with Osiris, she'd pushed for, and gotten, permission to 'tell all' about the Stargate program. That in itself spoke to how much she trusted the guy. But... he wasn't around. And here she was....needing.

Her head lowered. Her shoulders slumped. And he wondered if her next move would be to lie, or more likely, *fall* down face first in the dirt. All thoughts of boyfriends and inappropriate behavior flew to the wind.

"Come here."

Her head snapped up, as best it could given her state of exhaustion, in a clumsy double-take. The reaction was delayed though, and by the time she actually understood what he'd said, his arm was already behind her, drawing her close. It was a given she wouldn't resist. And she didn't.

O'Neill didn't need to see the quick glance from the Jaffa behind them to know Teal'c had seen them. In a way, it was fitting. A tiny smile flicked across the Colonel's face as he recalled the quietly spoken words of his friend. 'MajorCarter felt a similar sense of frustration when you were missing.' Very little ever escaped the Jaffa's notice.

Carter snuggled closer and he responded by repositioning his arm ever so slightly and lowering his cheek to touch her hair. This moment was for both of them, provided for by one stubborn Jaffa who was not so much guarding a dead foe as standing lookout so his friends could have a few minutes of privacy. To just be themselves, and enjoy being reunited. Jack inhaled deeply through his nose and found the smell of a sweet shampoo still evident despite the dirt, grime and blood. He smiled. He'd have to remember to do something especially 'nice' for the Jaffa.



Two days later Carter woke, only to face a hasty 'goodbye' from her father. The proverbial dam threatened to burst and she turned her head to one side, blinking back hot tears.

"Sam."

Her head involuntarily turned in the direction of the sound.

O'Neill stood leaning against the doorframe, hands deep in his pockets. She could only wonder how long he might have been there and if he'd witnessed the distressing scene of a few moments before.

He slowly stepped forward and lit on the edge of the bed next to hers. "He had no choice, really."

She frowned and pressed her eyes shut so tightly a drop of moisture was forced out of each. Dammit, he *had* been there. Suddenly it wasn't so important to keep her emotions tightly in check anymore. Teal'c had seen her cry and it didn't seem to diminish her in his eyes. How much more accepting would this man be who'd only a short time ago held her shaking body against his strong and stable one? The salt stung as it passed over the gash on the side of her face, and suddenly he was there again with an arm around her shoulder holding her solidly.

The contact was brief out of necessity but effective enough. After only a few moments Carter eased herself free and settled back against the pillows. A comfortable silence fell between them and soon her eyes closed and her hand slid from his.

Quietly O'Neill left her to sleep. Before heading home for the night, he'd have to stop by security and remind them to fill out a work order for the malfunctioning camera in the infirmary.



After another two days Sam was home on forced medical leave. She thought about calling Pete, but Denver just seemed too far away. All the things she'd ever heard about long-distance relationships were apparently right. Sure he'd be glad to hear from her, and possibly agree to make plans to get together, but it wouldn't be that night or even likely to be the next day. By the time they *did* manage to get together she knew she'd be over her slump and not need the emotional support anymore. Besides, although she was able to tell him all about the Stargate program she knew have a fit over her latest batch of injuries. The prospect of dealing with *that* made her hand stop cold on the telephone.

Instead of dialing Pete, she called her brother, Mark. No time like the present for getting to the nasty business of telling him their father would be incommunicado for the foreseeable future. Mark took it well, as a matter of fat much better than she expected, and their conversation turned to the more comfortable questions of 'Whatcha been up to?' and 'Seen any good movies lately?'.

She didn't know why but she just couldn't mention the last movie she saw was 'Singing in the Rain', with Pete. Her avoidance of the subject, whether intentional or not, was brought to an abrupt end.

"How's Pete?"

It sounded so much like someone else who'd asked the same question her breath caught in her throat. "Um, fine."

"So?" After a pause he continued, and Sam could almost *see* his eyes roll. "Have you seen him lately, gone out?"

Her brow knit. How long *had* it been? Three weeks? Or only two? "Not for a couple weeks. I've been busy at work."

As soon as it was out of her mouth she knew it was the wrong thing to say. Mark immediately went into one of his famous tirades of what a sucky job the Air Force must be and how unlucky he was to have not one, but two family members whose lives were governed by the hateful thing. Sam's free hand rose on its own accord, and her fingers pinched the bridge of her nose. She didn't even have the energy to argue with him. Apparently he hadn't really taken the news about Jacob very well at all.

The conversation ended not quickly enough for her, and when she finally hung up she was so in need of quiet she not only turned off the ringer on the phone she'd been using, but also turned off her cell and set her pager to vibrate.

An hour and a cup of hot tea later, she decided to pack it in and go to bed. A short while after she'd retired the little red light on her answering machine began to flash and her pager vibrated itself all the way off the table and dropped silently down to the carpeted floor. Deep in Cheyenne Mountain restless fingers drummed out a staccato rhythm on the folder by the phone. The only writing on the folder was a name typed in boldface Times New Roman: Peter Shannon.



If O'Neill were honest with himself, he would have to admit he hated what he'd done: gone out and 'checked up' on someone Carter was involved with, without her knowledge. Oh, the guy was clean enough, a cop, just like he'd said, average career advancements and a short previous marriage that ended amicably. No problem there. Also no problem with the fact he regularly dealt with the FBI and other government agencies as a part of his job.

Hence, his ability to have a background check done privately. Or not-so-privately considering all inquiries related to SGC personnel landed on Hammond's desk, or in his absence, his 2IC's. This desk, the one being pummeled to death, one finger at a time.

So much for Carter's trust, apparently the street didn't go both ways. Still it wasn't only the fact he'd checked up on her, it was that he'd lied. O'Neill's own sources were far more thorough than the Denver cop's. He wasn't just told about the background check; he was sent an audio clip of a conversation one Officer Shannon had had with a Special Agent named Dan Faraday. Two things jumped out at O'Neill as he listened. He literally had to clench his fingernails into his palms to stay still enough to make it through the tape a second time to verify what he'd heard. "I'm working on a case." And, "It's not like I'm dating her."

The Colonel saw red. It had to be a lie, would make sense to be a lie. Of course, Pete wouldn't admit he was requesting a background check on his 'girlfriend'; nobody would be that stupid. Nobody. Therefore the alternative could not possibly be true. If what the Officer had said was indeed the truth, and he *wasn't* dating O'Neill's 2IC, then she was, in fact, his current 'case'. Bastard.

The file under his hand wasn't sparkly clean but there were no indications Pete was doing anything aside from his 'Denver Cop' duties. No NSA involvement. No NID. Nothing. No reason to worry. Yet. Of course Maybourne's official file was probably cleaner than this. The thought made O'Neill blow out a harsh breath in a near growl. Ever since the debacle with Adrian Conrad it was obvious that anyone with enough money, influence or power could find a chink in the SGC's armor and wriggle their way in. All it would take was someone with an 'in' that could be bought, and police officers were not known for their stellar income bracket.

O'Neill tried Carter's cell number again only to be greeted by a cheery metallic voice informing him the number was not available and would he like to leave a voice mail? He hung up the phone with a slam. All he wanted to do was talk to Carter for one minute and make sure she was okay. Simple. Not.

If he went to see her he might have to explain his total overreaction to not being able to reach her. And *that* would surely lead to 'why?'. Which would inevitably lead to 'who?'. He'd eventually have to admit he'd checked up on Pete. Not a scenario he wanted to face; accusing Pete of something he'd had no qualms about doing himself. There was a *huge* difference in the motivation but he wasn't sure Carter would see it.

He pounded his fist one time on the solid wood of the desk and quickly got to his feet. Repercussions notwithstanding, he was going to check on his 2IC.

Thirty odd minutes later he was standing at her door hesitantly knocking. Her car was parked on the street in its usual spot amongst the other's that lined the street at night when everyone was home. With the curtains drawn he couldn't see any lights on inside, but he had a feeling she was home. Of course there was still Pete, and the possibility of a date. Damn. He knocked a little louder and was rewarded with a muffled, "Oh, for God's sake! Give me a minute!" as the porch light flicked on and the deadbolt turned.

"Colonel?"

The pain medication she'd taken made her bleary-eyed and she squinted at the brightly-lit figure in front of her. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh, checking. Really just seeing if you were okay; first night at home and all." He tried to sound casual but failed miserably.

She turned and squinted at a clock on the wall, then back at him. "You just saw me a few hours ago. Nothing's changed. I'm tired. I'm sore. I was ordered to get some rest. I *was* asleep."

"Oh, well, in that case; carry on." As he spoke his eyes moved all around the doorframe, then into the room behind her before settling on her face.

"What are you doing?"

His eyebrows rose. "Me? Oh, nothin'. Glad you're okay. 'Night, Carter."

As her turned her hand reached out and gripped his forearm tightly. "I'm sleepy, not blind. You're checking out my house. Why?"

As she said the dreaded word he flinched. "Like I said, checking up. Fraiser's idea actually." When in trouble cast blame somewhere else.

She moved to stand where his eyes were currently looking, once more behind her. "If you're supposed to be checking up on *me* you're doing a poor job of it. You could have just called."

"Tried. No answer. Phone, cell, pager." He ticked them off touching his fingers one at a time to his thumb.

"Oh. Sorry." She flushed slightly. She *had* turned everything off or down which meant she was effectively unavailable. Something she really could never be as long as she was with the SGC. Evidently this *wasn't* just a social call and the Colonel really *did* have cause to check on her. Damn. She suddenly felt guilty for making him drive all the way to her house for nothing. "Look, I'm awake and it's not really late, so you want to come in for a beer?"

He looked at her oddly for a minute. This wasn't exactly one of their 'team night's' and having a beer would make it too much like a social thing. Something he and Carter never did. At least not just the two of them. "Coffee?" Coffee was safe. Two coworkers could take a coffee break together. That was acceptable, more 'work-like'.

She nodded and took a step back. "Sure. All I've got in the house is Hazelnut. Hope you don't mind."

"No, nutty is good." He really had no idea what he was saying as he closed her front door behind him, latching the deadbolt as an afterthought.

She plainly heard the deadbolt as she walked into the kitchen and right then knew for certain something was up. O'Neill was by nature a cautious man, but to lock them in? He was being very protective and she wanted to know why. As the coffee brewed she excused herself to change into more appropriate attire than her robe.

While changing she had a few minutes to think and wondered if O'Neill's actions were somehow related to the last mission. She'd really been through the wringer lately. First she'd been body-slammed by the stow-away super soldier, then not two weeks later been concussed and hallucinating when she'd been left alone on the Prometheus. At least those times she hadn't had to be stitched up and left with a lovely yellowish-purple bruise on half her face. Her hand automatically rose to touch the still sensitive area and she winced slightly. No wonder O'Neill was worried, she still looked like hell and had all but collapsed right into his lap a few days ago. So much for sucking it up like one of the guys; she was definitely feeling like a weak link.

She returned; accepted the cup of coffee he'd already poured for her and motioned to the den. They sat quietly for a few minutes, more enjoying the aroma of the coffee than the taste until it cooled a bit.

"Colonel, I know I've had some injuries lately, and the liability I've been to the team-"

"What?" He cut her off more harshly than he intended. "Who said anything about liability? SG-1 has had more downtime because of *my* injuries than anyone else's. So, you've gotten hurt more than your share over the past few weeks, you'll bounce back."

"Thank you, Sir." She was really confused now. If O'Neill wasn't concerned about her job performance, then what was it? She suddenly recalled how she'd literally melted into his side when he held her back at the Beta site. Oh, God. They'd gotten close again. It always crept up on them slowly and they'd have to nip it in the bud to maintain the status quo, but now she'd crossed the line and he was going to have her reassigned.

Her thoughts were flying a mile a minute and her mouth jumped in, trying to catch up. "I never thanked you for holding, er, supporting me after you took down that soldier. I know it's your duty as my CO, but it's nice to know we're friends, too. That we can be, and still be professional."

He'd already set down his coffee and now stared at her like she was speaking Goa'uld.

"Sir, I'm just saying-"

"Carter!" He suddenly lurched to his feet and took a few steps away from the couch. "I *know* what you're saying, I just can't figure out why the hell you're bringing it up now! Did I offend you? I didn't grope you; I put my arm around you for cryin' out loud. I *was* being professional!"

She quickly stood but her feet wouldn't let her move from in front of the couch. "Yes! You were. But I still can be, too. Nothing has to change."

He held his hands out in exasperation. "What the *hell* are you talking about?"

Her eyes were open wide and she blinked at him. "You. Me. Feeling like I'm fragile and you have to protect me."

"You were injured!" His voice was getting louder.

"Right." She rolled her eyes. "But you don't have to keep doing it."

"I'm not!"

"You are!"

"When?"

"Right here, right now." She gestured with one hand to the room. "You felt that you had to come here and check on me, you looked over the house, and you locked the door behind you when you came in."

His shoulders slumped. He rubbed a hand over his face, and sighed wearily. "That has nothing to do with anything between us."

She folded her arms across her chest defiantly. "Fine. Then what *does* it have to do with?"

He froze. The moment of truth had arrived. Sink or swim, O'Neill, sink or swim. "Pete."

"Huh?" Her mouth dropped open.



She honestly considered throwing him out of her house, CO or not, especially when he admitted to the background check. The only thing that stopped her was his rapid continuing and the revelation that Pete had done one on her. Talk about seeing 'red'.

At that point O'Neill decided a beer was in order for both of them, and pulled two out of her fridge. Turning at the small island, he nearly bumped into her she was so close. He handed off one of the beers and headed straight back to the den, Carter on his heels. She plopped down right next to him on the couch and pressed him for an answer.

"So, you're acting like this because of Pete? What, you think he's an international spy or something?"

"Worse. NID."

She rolled her eyes. "I just don't see it. You don't know him like I do. He's a cop. Curious. Okay, so he has connections and he used them. That was wrong, but not dangerous. Yes, I'm gonna have a word with him about it, but really it's not out of character for him. He'd never hurt me."

"That's good." O'Neill looked down as he spoke. His voice was so soft she almost didn't hear it. He began to fiddle with the label on the beer.

They both sipped from the bottles, and sat silent for a few minutes. Carter spoke quietly. "About all the stuff I said...about us."

"It's okay. You're right. We're friends, teammates, professionals."

"And a lot more." This time it was O'Neill who had to strain to hear the words. He didn't respond, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable with just the two of them alone in her house, sitting so close his knee brushed up against hers.

"I'm going to break it off with Pete." The statement came out of nowhere.

"You don't have to do that. You know him. You trust him-"

"I already decided it before tonight." She paused. "I need more."

The simple statement made O'Neill snap his mouth shut.

After another pause she continued. "I need someone who will let me be who I am, but will always be there for me, no matter what." As she spoke she looked dead center into his eyes, then added with a bit of mirth. "And a *whole lot* closer than Denver."

He didn't flinch or back off under her scrutiny. The corner of his mouth turned up slightly. "And that would be enough?"

"For a start, yes."

"And the 'more'?"

"I'm a very patient woman."

He nodded. "So, how close? Colorado?"

"Closer."

"The Springs?"

"Way closer." As she spoke she leaned toward him.

He cracked a smile. "Any closer and they'd have to be in your *house* Carter."

She only looked back at him and matched his smile.

"Oh." On impulse he reached up to touch her chin with his fingertips and leaned forward. She didn't pull back and when his lips lightly touched hers, she pressed her mouth against his solidifying the brief contact. Slowly he leaned back to once again take in her eyes. His eyes drifted shut slowly; he knew he couldn't stay, not after dropping his guard and touching her like that. He wasn't about to screw up both of their lives on a whim.

The only sound was the clock on the wall ticking until Sam whispered "What was that for?" She already knew the answer but asked anyway.

Jack stood, reluctantly removing his hand from her face, and moved toward the door. "It was a promise."

"Of?"

He unlocked the door and turned back to her with his hand still on the knob. "More."

She felt herself grinning stupidly but didn't care. He grinned back, looking like a mischievous young boy, then just as quickly turned serious. "Goodnight, Sam. Sleep well." He nodded as he spoke and left promptly, pulling the door closed behind him. Just before pulling it shut he stuck his mouth to the narrow opening and called in to her, "You're gonna lock this, right?"

She laughed outright and bounded to the door closing it the rest of the way and dutifully turning the lock.

For several minutes she stood with her back against the door, still smiling. Eventually she went back to bed and did sleep well, dreaming her pillow was the shoulder of the man who was the 'more' she'd always wanted.

~fin.