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Jack pulled Sam's car into his driveway, parking behind his pick up, and turned off the ignition. The car fell into darkness, the lights of the dashboard extinguished. Everything was dark, with the hour quickly approaching 2400.

Sam sat silent and still beside him. She hadn't said much for the last twenty minutes, but her grip on his hand, resting on the seat between them, had been firm... almost desperate. He understood.

"Come inside," he said after several moments. "Have a drink or something before you drive home."

She only nodded and opened her door. They came together at the hood of the car again, and their hands found each other in the darkness. Jack fished his keys from his jeans pocket and let the way to the front steps and up to the door.

Inside the house, he reached for a light switch, but Sam reached out to stop him. "No, Jack. I like the dark."

He shut the door and tossed his keys on the small table beside it. Without having to ask what she needed, he pulled her into his arms and held her. He knew, because he needed it himself. She took a long, shuddered breath that seemed to move through her whole body, and Jack drew in through his nose the scents he had long ago learned to connect with Sam Carter.

"Stay, Sam."

She didn't say anything, but her arms tightened around him and he felt her breath stop short.

"Just a few more hours."

Sam nodded against his shoulder. Still in the dark, he took her hand and led her down the hall to his bedroom. In silence, he pushed her jacket off her shoulders and felt her hands on his arms... doing the same. He slipped his feet free of his sneakers, and steadied her as she removed her own. Her hands sought the snap of his jeans, and he clenched his jaw tight to keep from moaning when she slipped them past his hips. Stripped down to his tee shirt and boxers, and Sam in her tee shirt and under things, he guided her in the dark to the bed.

The moon came through his open blinds, shedding silver light across the rumpled quilt. He tossed it back, and together they lay down, facing each other. Sam looked at him, her features lit by the moon's soft light, and he nearly choked at what he saw there. Everything neither of them had said... everything that could be said but wouldn't be until the time was right... shined in her eyes. Clear and bright and pure.

Jack smoothed his hands over her features, enjoying the soft warmth of her skin. She nuzzled against him, pressing her face into his chest, and they settled into the pillows for just a few more hours together before the world returned to reality.

"Good morning, Sam."

Sam looked up from her coffee and cold scrambled eggs to see Daniel approach her table in the commissary. She smiled and moved her tray so he would have room to place his own. He sat down, a wide smile on his face.

"Not hungry?" he said, noting her partially picked at breakfast.

Sam shrugged. "Not really. What have you got there?" She pointed to the file folder he set down on the table.

"Oh, I spent the weekend going over the etchings from the P3X-439 colonnade. I think I'm finally starting to make some headway, but nothing yet. Hey, Jack!"

A twittering sensation danced over her skin and she sat straighter. Sam sensed him behind her just before he pulled out a chair and sat at the table. His knee brushed her thigh as he scooted forward, only a cup of coffee in his hand. She swallowed the rush of intense awareness that washed over her, rushing straight to her cheeks.

"What's up with the two of you? Giving up breakfast?"

Sam glanced at Jack, and found his dark gaze on her. But he quickly looked away and down at her cold breakfast. "What's up, Carter? Breakfast is usually your favorite meal of the day."

I would have made it for you myself, if I could have.

She saw it in his eyes, and willed herself to hide the swirling emotion in her chest. Leaving him that morning was one of the hardest things she had ever done, coming a close second to not making love to him.

"Just not hungry this morning, sir."

"Rough weekend?"

She smiled, and hoped she didn't look too goofy doing it. But if she couldn't let out the heated emotion, she could let out the happiness.

"Not at all, sir. I had a wonderful weekend."

"Oh? What'd you do?" Daniel asked.

"I-um," she cleared her throat. "I went to the wedding of an old friend in Denver."

"Sounds like a good time," he said, his mouth full of waffles.

She looked back at Jack. "It was. I could have stayed forever."

"What about you, Jack. What'd you do all weekend?" Daniel asked. "I called once or twice, but you didn't answer."

Jack held her gaze one second short of too long, and looked across the table at Daniel. "I saw a good friend."

"Oh. That sounds nice, too. Anyone we know?"

Heat burned in Sam's cheeks she couldn't understand why Daniel didn't see the flames. She looked down at her hands folded in her lap and pushed through every bit of military training she had to get her emotions under control. There was no other way. No other choice. She swore to him she could... she would... and she wouldn't let him down. Wouldn't let them down.

Jack took a sip of his coffee and snatched a piece of toast from her tray, biting into it. "So, what're you working on, Danny Boy..." he asked, avoiding the question.

Daniel launched into another long diatribe about the etchings on P3X-439, and how if his theory proved true, they might be a step closer to the Lost City. If only he could decipher just a few more symbols.

"It's almost like a crossword puzzle. If you can get one word – like one across – it gives you hints for two and four down. Even if you don't know the answers, you're a step closer."

"Oh, well... you should be able to figure it out, Daniel. I mean, even I can do crossword puzzles."

Sam tried to control her grin when she looked at him. "Oh, really?"

He sat back and made his what? face. "Yeah, Carter. I like crossword puzzles."

She felt it happen... in one instant they slipped into their familiar grooves. CO and his 2IC... friends... jokers... not near lovers. It was a loss, but it was good to find her balance again. Equilibrium.

"Okay, sir. I bet you $20 you can't do the Post's crossword puzzle by ... say... Thursday? No, I'll be generous and give you until Friday."

His lips tipped up in a sexy grin, one that would always sent her stomach into a fluttering jumble. "Fine. You're on, Carter."

"With no help."


"I mean it. No help."

He extended his hand, and she took it. Warmth shot up her arm as a single fingertip caressed the inside of her wrist... unseen by Daniel. "You're on, Major."

"We'll see, sir."