"Oh man! Why couldn't we have used the Stargate." Jack had reappeared on Earth back in Minnesota, and he was even in his own back yard, the only problem was he was knee deep in his pond in his own back yard. Suddenly a familiar voice spoke.
"They may not have had one O'Neill." Jack peered around in the gloom, it was again dark outside, yet Jack doubted that it was the same night that they had left.
"Hey Teal'c how are you?" Jack queried.
"I am indeed myself again O'Neill."
"Glad to hear it"
"Hey, I'm okay too." Another voice responded.
"Hello Daniel, you okay?"
"As well as can be expected after being dragged across the universe, drugged, knocked around a bit, and then sent back to Earth only to land in a pond."
Jack laughed, "Hey when you said you wanted to get back to nature last week. I just assumed… Where's Carter?"
"I'm right here sir." Her tone was despondent, although that may be due to the fact that unlike her teammates who were standing in ice cold water, she was sitting in it.
"Carter, how'd you get down there." At his joy of seeing her more than laughing at her situation, Jack chuckled again and went to help her up.
She however just glared at him and once was on her feet, ran to dry land. The three men quickly followed suit.
"Looks like you get the shower first Carter." Jack stated, still smiling stupidly over the fact that she was unharmed along with everyone else on the team. Dr. Frasier would of course be the final judge of that.
Sam looked down at herself dismally. After going from a freezing room to freezing water she saw she was shivering visibly and covered in goosebumps. Along with that she was also coated in pond scum from her waist down.
Feeling exhausted and confused she wasn't going to argue with a nice hot shower. Without waiting for Jack to go first, she muttered a "Thank you sir" and tore through his living room and up the stairs, bent on being warm again if she had to sprain an ankle or two first. Daniel and Jack showed slightly more restraint, but not much as they made their way inside and Jack headed for the linen closet for blankets until Carter was out of the shower.
Removing his soaked socks and shoes Jack made his way to the kitchen, "I think I'd better call General Hammond and let him know what's been going on with us. Man am I getting sick of the alien abduction thing."
Meanwhile, Daniel and Teal'c started tea. Then Daniel went to slump on the couch with Teal'c in the lead. From the living room Jack was sure that they could hear him on the phone, finally he heard a voice on the other end.
"Good evening General."
"Colonel O'Neill? Do you know what time it is?"
"Actually sir, I have no idea. You see My watch was just eaten by an alien. Alright not my whole watch, just the band really, but you know… No sir, what time is it?"
"It's 0200 Colonel!"
"Then I amend my first statement, good morning General."
"Jack what are you doing calling me on a Thursday morning when you are suppose to be taking time off?"
"Wow, didn't think we were there that long."
"Jack, what the hell are you talking about? You had better explain yourself."
"Well General, don't want to say too much over the phone, but let's just say that when you let us have time off, someone didn't think we needed it and we were sorta thrown into another mission against our will."
Finally comprehending the gravity of the situation General Hammond asked, "Is everyone alright?"
"We're just fine sir, of course the ol Doc will be happy to check us out."
"You better report to the SGC first thing in the morning, I mean later today."
"You betcha General, but you see, we're all up at my cabin."
"I expect you all on a plane as soon as possible."
There was a lot of muffled grumbling on the other end of the line and then Jack heard a click so he hung up.
Entering the living room Jack announced, "The General wants us in Colorado Springs as soon as we've all had a good night's sleep."
"And a shower." Daniel said from somewhere deep in his blanket. "Hey Jack, think you could turn the heat up in here."
"Yeah, hold on." Jack suddenly realized how cold he actually was and hoisted his blanket more securely on his shoulders.
It was either because she didn't want to keep the men waiting too long or she was incredibly tired but Sam was finished her shower in less than 20 minutes. When she came walking downstairs in fresh clothes and a towel on her head, Jack was relieved to see that the healthy pink glow had returned to her cheeks. He must have been smiling stupidly again because Carter gave him a funny look as she proceeded to sit next to the wad of blanket that was Daniel, on the couch.
"Daniel, it's your turn."
"What about you?" Daniel turned to Jack to protest.
"I'm next, Teal'c will go after me because he doesn't need to sleep."
"Okay, I won't take long." And with that Daniel proceeded up the steps leaving his half drunk mug of tea where it was.
Sam noticed it and went to the kitchen to help herself. She motioned for Jack to follow her and he did. Sensing where this was going he started talking, "You know Carter, right before you were taken off by that slimly alien and you uh… kissed me… I knew you weren't yourself and yet I let you… I should have been more careful but I… I'm sorry."
She stopped him by putting her hand on his arm, "Sir I don't regret what I did and I'm glad you reciprocated. Don't be sorry. I thought I was going to die and that was the one thing…" She became quiet for a moment but soon found her voice, "Sir, I actually wanted to ask you something."
"What is it?"
"When you told Swush that you and I shared a bond of trust and love, did you mean that?"
Jack was slightly taken aback, he hadn't realized that's what he'd said. "You remember that?" It was a stall question.
"Yeah, it's strange, I was there but I wasn't. Whatever drug they gave us caused a sort of out-of-body experience. But sir, you didn't answer my question."
"If I'm going to you better stop calling me sir."
She swallowed, "Yes, Jack"
"Carter… Sam, everything I did and said while we were on that planet, everything, I meant it."
Right then Jack thought she was going to start crying but she didn't, "I do too Jack."
Slowly what she had said dawned on him. He had known she felt something for him, isn't that what she had said during the Zatarc testing? But love, that was something else. Jack felt his insides turn into butterflies, who knew a season soldier could feel this way. Looking into her deep blue eyes he couldn't do anything but pull her into a compassionate hug. With his lips right next to her ear he whispered, "Are you sure now that we can keep this all between us and keep on going the way we have been?"
"Do we have a choice?"
"I could retire, again."
"No sir. Couldn't let you do that." She pulled back from him. "We just stay how we are."
That may have been what her mouth was saying but her eyes were saying something else entirely.
And Jack knew that even if she was willing and able to keep going as if nothing were out of place, he would never be able to. For him there was no other choice, he had to be with the woman he loved. "You may say that, but I can't." And with that Jack lifted her chin to his lips and kissed her truly, passionately, deeply.